Tag Archives: memories


Today is Epiphany and I have taken all the ornaments off the tree. Well, I think I have. It’s dark now and I won’t swear that I got them all until I can scour the tree in daylight. I hate to see the tree go, but I do enjoy de-decorating it. When I’m decorating it, I have to decide where to put each ornament as I go along. When I’m de-decorating it, I have assigned spaces for all of them. Most of them go in boxes. My favorites are the ones that have individual boxes with pictures on them. There’s no question about what goes inside that type of box. The only question is where to look for it on the tree.

I turn on all the room lights and all the tree lights and it’s still challenging to find all the ornaments. I have notes on my boxes about what I should be looking for, because sometimes there are changes. The biggest change was in 2009, when our tree fell over. Twice. We didn’t lose much the first time because my grandson was there and broke the tree’s fall, but the second time there was quite a bit of damage. I have one box that holds a dozen fragile glass ornaments. There are only six left. I wrote a note on the top of the box so I won’t forget how many to search for. I fill in the extra indentations with small things that didn’t have boxes before the great tree disaster of 2009. One indentation is full of the little metal tops that came from the broken ornaments. I’m sure they’ll come in handy some day.

I don’t buy fragile glass ornaments any more. I do like to add something new every year, even though we already have so many ornaments, it’s hard to fit them all on the tree. This year, we bought an ornament to commemorate our trip out West. We picked it up at a gift shop near the Grand Canyon and it’s a sturdy metal Kokopeli, with wire and stone accents. Every time we put it on our Christmas tree, we will remember that trip and the adventures we had, exploring deserts and climbing scary ladders and hiking on the Bright Angel Trail.

I have an eclectic Christmas tree. It’s full of memories but it would never win any beauty contests. I remember visiting my high society aunt one Christmas season and seeing her fashionable tree. It was in her formal living room and it was covered in matching ornaments, plastic “sugarplum” characters that were in style that year. I thought it was pretty, but I couldn’t imagine having a tree with no memories on it. I have one of those sugarplum things in my collection now. One. It goes on my tree every year and it reminds me of my aunt, who probably got rid of all her sugarplums as soon as Christmas was over so she could have a new theme the next year.

I will never have a stylish Christmas tree. There are some pretty raggedy things on my tree every year. After my mother died, we found, among her treasures, some ornaments I had made as a child out of egg cartons and glitter. She had wrapped them as carefully as if they were made of blown glass. I do the same thing now when I take them off my own tree. I admired my successful aunt but I was never like her. I am like her younger sister, my mother, who chose sentiment over style, every single time.



Love Story

I was scrolling through my cable guide one evening this week and I came across the movie, Love Story. This has happened before, of course, and my normal response is to keep scrolling. This time, though, I felt the urge to take a look. Suddenly, I wanted to remember why this movie was such a phenomenon back in 1970, when people (including me and all my friends) stood in lines that snaked around city blocks just to see it. It played at the Five Points Theater, which in those days was a swanky movie palace with one huge Cinerama screen, one of only two in the whole city of Jacksonville.

I cringed a bit as I clicked the remote and then, there they were: the rich preppie boy and the poor but smart scholarship girl, trading curse words adorably and strolling through the snow while that unforgettable score played in the background. I heard that music and I was sixteen again, feeling powerful because my friends and I had arrived long before the box office opened and we were at the front of that line that snaked around the block. When we got our tickets and went inside, we trooped up to the balcony.

At the time, I had a friend named John who was more of a brother than a friend. His home life was not happy, so he spent more time at our house than he did at his own and my parents accepted him as one of the gang. I have pictures of family Christmas gatherings that show John sitting by the tree, helping to hand out presents. John went with us to the Five Points Theater the day we saw Love Story. He brought a box of tissues.

My favorite memory from those days is of sitting in the balcony of the Five Points Theater, watching John drop tissues down to the people weeping in the regular seats during Love Story. I like to believe they were grateful. I know I was grateful to have something to laugh about during that heartbreaking movie. Of course, we were young. We saw someone die young on the screen but we didn’t believe it could happen to any of us. We could weep for poor Oliver, a widower at twenty-four, but we felt safe in our teenaged invulnerability.

That was forty-five years ago. I didn’t think Love Story could make me cry again after all this time, but I was wrong. Oh, I could get through the manipulative story just fine, if it didn’t bring back so many memories. I will never be sixteen again and I will never again be able to enjoy John’s quirky sense of humor. Like so many creative people who were full of life in the seventies, he did not survive the eighties.

I won’t forget Love Story and I won’t forget my friend, that inimitable elfin spirit named John.